Resolution #10920: I’m going to keep a journal.
How many times have you sat in front of a brand new journal and said to yourself “I’m going to keep a journal. And this time around, I mean it.”? If you’re one among us stationery hoarders, the answer is likely to be “a few times, at least”.
There are hundreds of articles on the web today that spell out why one should journal and the benefits of doing it everyday. Journaling is slowly being recognized as keystone habit that can improve feelings of well-being and overall satisfaction. We’ll get to that soon enough.
For now, let’s tackle the process of getting started.
The Big Question—Analog or Digital?
Let’s face it—we love technology and everything digital. Then again, some things are best left to paper and pen. There’s nothing like the feel of a strongly bound journal, with beautiful paper and the tools to help you create anything you want. Give your screen a rest and try going old school. After all, it’s what centuries of writers have done!
Pro-tip: If you don’t feel like carrying around a journal everywhere you go, download a notes app like Google Keep or Evernote. Use it to jot down stray thoughts that you might like to explore further in your journal. That way, you get the best of both worlds.
Buy yourself a journal
If you don’t have one already, the first step is to select a journal. Don’t be hasty and go with the first one that catches your eye. Take your time to select based on size, look and feel, but also think about what you’re likely to use it for. Pay attention to the type of paper you’re selecting. Does it blot? Is it too thick, or just right? If you’re an artist and are likely to scribble in doodles, you’ll want to test your micron pens before you select a journal.
Explore forms and figures
Like taking a car out for a test drive, journaling involves its own fair share of experimenting. Try to understand what you want out of keeping a journal. Is it going to serve as a place for everyday to-do lists, or more long-form writing? Try your hand at bullet journaling, and see if that works. On any given day, the day’s frustrations may come out as a rant or a poem, with a different take on spacing. It could even be a quick sketch. With pen and paper, there’s nothing stopping you from expressing yourself freely.
Fix a time of day
Once you have a general idea of what kind of a journal you’d like to keep, work out a time in your daily routine that you can devote to this task. It helps to jot down to-do lists first thing in the morning. Write out the tasks for the day, little goals you want to achieve or appointments you can’t forget. Revisit them at the end of the day to check them off your list. If there’s a tough decision weighing on your mind, putting it on paper can help relieve the stress of dealing with it. Fixing a time doesn’t mean you have to stick to it without fail. But it does help in establishing a routine, so it doesn’t feel taxing anymore.
Beginning the process of journaling is usually not that hard, especially if you’re excited about it. But keeping a journal is often a lot harder. You may find yourself consistently journaling for the first week, and taper off when you haven’t got much to say anymore. The key is to stay consistent. Don’t look at it as a habit you’re forcing yourself to inculcate, but more as a little bit of time set aside for yourself everyday to look inward.
Don’t beat yourself up
That being said, journaling is not an easy habit to cultivate and may require a couple of attempts before the habit really sticks. Stop, think and re-evaluate at different intervals in time. Ask yourself: is it working? Does journaling help you organise your thoughts? If you think it’s not working, don’t dismiss those thoughts. Take a break, and try again in a couple of days or weeks.
Revisit and rework
One of the great things about having a physical journal is the sensory experience of revisiting its pages. Not only do the words come alive, taking you back in time, but your other senses are also heightened. You may have pressed flowers between its pages, or left ticket stubs as a keepsake; maybe a couple of photographs here and there. These little elements can make the experience a whole lot richer.
If you’re a writer, working on prose or poetry, rework is probably essential to your everyday job. Ideas that have been locked away in pages for decades may take on new meanings that inspire your work. You never know what you’ll find in a dusty old journal.
On that note, we hope you’re inspired to start writing and journaling. In the words of the very passionate and successful Jack London, “Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.”
We’re always looking to hear about your experiences! Do share and comment below. Tell us what you thought of the blog, and what you’d like to hear more about. We’re all ears.